A challenging part of any trip is choosing what to pack for the journey.  When traveling with a backpack every bit of space is crucial and there is a fine line between covering the necessities and over burdening yourself.  Since we left home 3 months ago and are feeling settled into our place in Australia, we wanted to look back at the best and worst things that we carted along.

Worst

  • A 3rd surfboard– “Do you really need 3 surfboards?!” Nug snapped as we were deciding what to bring.  She may not agree but the 1st two were an absolute necessity.  It was the 3rd that caused problems.  My inability to make a decision convinced me to bring it along.  I lugged it through Rarotonga, New Zealand and Australia before placing it on consignment at a surf shop down the road from our house.  The bugger is still sitting there as I impatiently wait for it to get out of my life.
  • Nug’s Banana Bread– Nug makes amazing banana bread and had made a few loaves before we left.  They were “for the plane ride”.  Any feeble attempt by me to snip a piece beforehand was met by a swift slap on the wrist.  I could not wait to get on the metal bird and stuff my fat face.  However, even with Nug’s careful pack job the bread was smashed and ended up drying out in my backpack.  It was like dust in our hands.  I was devastated as we gave the bag to the stewardess to dispose of.
  • Mom’s Water Filter– The original seal broke on the filter and each attempt to drink from the bottle on the plane resulted in a deluge of water all over our faces and clothes.  We were stuck with a plastic jug that did not work and was taking up space.  We were on the verge of chucking it.  Luckily, Nug used a plastic bag to make a seal.  Since then water filter has become one of our most used items and that is why it appears on both lists.
  • Clothes– Even after several trips we always misjudge what we should bring.  Inevitably we bring too much or the wrong item.  The shirt that I can’t bear to leave behind is suddenly disregarded to lighten my load.  I think the lesson is to pack ½ of what you think you will need.  If worse comes to worse, you can always buy more on the road.

BEST

  • Sarong– A couple of years ago in Bali, Nug insisted that we buy a sarong or two, “because they always came in handy.”  I thought it was the dumbest idea ever and of course told her so.  As is often the case, I was dead wrong.  These things are like a utility knife.  We have used them as towels to dry off, to cover ourselves as we change, as a blanket on a plane or when we are camping, to protect from sunburn, as a beach mat, to lay out for picnics, as a pillowcase for suspect pillows in hostels, as curtains in our campervan, as a dress for Lianne, and a scarf when it is cold.  I will never travel without one of these things again…Nug, you were right…this time.
  • Journal– My mind is like a sieve.  There are so many happenings that I forget about if I do not write them down.  It is also useful to jot down quotes, recommendations from fellow travelers, phone numbers, addresses, or thoughts that come to mind on the road.  It is also interesting to read past entries and bring yourself back to the place you were when they were written.  On this trip we have an awesome Moleskin journal that was a present from Neal and Christine.
  • Pocketknife– This almost failed to make it into my bag which would have been a rookie error.  It has made numerous PB&J sandwiches, sliced fruit and cheese, cut up chicken and hot dogs (for beanie weenies) and had tons of other uses while we have been camping in the woods.
  • Mom’s Water Filter– While we had some issues with this thing at the start it has become a vital addition.  In New Zealand and Australia bottled water is about $4 for a liter bottle.  The small, portable water filter turns the most wretched water into crystal clear, great tasting H2O.  We crush water on the road and so far this baby has saved us several hundred dollars!  Thanks Mom.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Nug bags– These toiletry bags were an epic gift from Noah and Lauren at a co-ed wedding shower.  They are his and hers and have Mr. and Mrs. Nug stitched onto the front of each.  I had planned on cramming all my toiletries into a plastic bag.  This would have been a catastrophe as I have had several explosions of deodorant, sunscreen and shampoo.  The waterproof lining of the bags has spared clothes, cameras, and other valuables from absolute destruction by confining the spills.

When we hit the road again in several months hopefully we will be able to learn from this and pack smarter…though it’s doubtful.

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